Ranking the Rocky/Creed Franchise

Annlyel explores the best of the Rocky and Creed franchises to deliver her definitive ranking. But which movie went the full twelve rounds?

There aren’t a lot of franchises spanning more than three movies. And yet the Rocky/Creed franchise which has now spanned five decades and is currently comprised of nine films is undoubtedly one of the best. It’s especially incredible because it’s a franchise of sports movies which are some of the toughest films to get right. And yet this epic saga deals with drama, heroic redemptions, and plot twists better than some of the most prominent films in other genres.

With Creed III currently in theaters and having just finished the franchise in an epic marathon for the first time, I am excited to rank these movies in all of their brilliant, tear-inducing glory. So join me as I explore the best twelve rounds in the business.

Rocky IV 002

9. Rocky Balboa

Even though this is considered one of the better Rocky movies I found the story to be a little boring when I watched it. I especially found the somewhat romantic storyline with Rocky and Marie, a grown-up single mother who he once knew when she was a teenager, a little hard to watch. As someone who thinks that Rocky and Adrian are the best movie couple in cinematic history (and I stand by that statement), I honestly felt like it was a pointless subplot that could’ve easily been removed.

Rocky Balboa

8. Rocky V

I’ve always heard abysmal things about this movie. So when I finally watched it for the first time I was expecting it to be one of the worst sequels ever made. Instead, within the first thirty minutes of the movie, I found myself crying so hard I couldn’t believe it. I actually really enjoyed this story and its positive messages throughout.  Even if the movie’s villain was the weakest in the franchise. And sure, the last fight was a bit corny but at least it was unexpected.

All in all, if this movie had been directed by Sylvester Stallone, it may have been one of the Top 5 movies in this franchise.

7. Creed II

Creed II is a film heavily bogged down by a repetitive plot. But what it lacks in originality it makes up for with a genuinely intriguing legacy storyline that has a couple of emotional payoffs.

6. Rocky IV

The first forty minutes of this movie are near-perfection, especially the film’s jaw-dropping plot twist that may just be one of the greatest shockers in cinematic history. Unfortunately, it’s the movie’s remaining forty or so minutes that drain away the film’s mesmeric quality.  Specifically the number of mediocre songs in the film’s attempt to create the next “Eye of the Tiger.” But the last fight with Ivan Drago is really good and almost makes up for the film’s lackluster moments.

Rocky IV

5. Creed

When Ryan Coogler made this movie I’m sure there were a lot of skeptics. Rocky Balboa was good but it seemed like the legacy of the “Italian Stallion” was over. Coogler instead created a story that would stand on its own and begin to pave a path for a new era of storytelling for this franchise. Despite retaining a sense of familiarity in the film’s ultimate conclusion, Coogler managed to make the franchise a little better with this movie.

4. Rocky II

This film has a lot of great, emotional moments. In fact, its ending is truly one of the best of the franchise. Unfortunately, the training montage which concludes with Rocky being surrounded by a large crowd of random children, while sweet, is kind of corny. Because of that, I can’t put this film any higher.

3. Creed III

I was not expecting Creed III to be my third favorite film in this franchise. But Coogler once again found a way to bring that emotional impact that makes his films so special. Pair this great story with Michael B. Jordan’s genuinely exciting direction and the winning chemistry of Jordan and Jonathan Majors and you have a legitimate hit on your hands. This movie is fantastic.

Creed III
Michael B. Jordan stars as Adonis Creed in CREED III. A Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures film. Photo credit: Eli Ade © 2023 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures Inc. All Rights Reserved. CREED is a trademark of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. All Rights Reserved.

2. Rocky

This movie won Best Picture for a reason. It’s a powerful story that is the epitome of the American Dream. It’s got heaps of emotion, an iconic score, and great acting, and it just might be one of the best love stories ever written. The ending wrecks me every time I see it.

1. Rocky III

This movie may not have any Oscar nominations. It may not be considered one of the best movies of all time. But Rocky III, for me, is the most inspirational film I’ve ever watched. I’ve watched this movie so many times and it never fails to wow me. It somehow finds a way to up the emotional stakes and raise the level of drama, and it involves the greatest training montage of all time. Plus, Mr. T’s Clubber Lang is one of the most iconic cinematic antagonists to ever exist. I can’t gush enough about this film.

Rocky III

So here’s my ranking of this remarkable, underrated franchise. I can’t wait to see where this story goes next and how it’ll find new ways to evolve.

How does your ranking of the Rocky/Creed franchise compare to mine? Climb through the ropes, lace up your boots, and throw your ranking into the ring. We’d love to hear from you.





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